When you can’t draw it down.
The Financial Times reported earlier this week that China Development Bank (CDB) and Export-Import Bank of China have asked several foreign clients to delay drawing down lines of credit. This will be worrying not only to foreign clients of these and other Chinese banks, but also worrying to some of China’s most successful exporters who have benefited from the ability to bundle financing from China with the products and services they are selling.
Will their potential customers trust this source of capital going forward? Probably if these delays are short-term and quickly blow over. But sales teams in these exporters must be anxiously wondering if their attractive financial packages for customers will still be available in the future. Their competitors may be wondering if the playing field is about to get a little more level.
Which industries have been most dependent for their international growth on supporting finance from CDB and other banks, and would be most impacted by a pull back? Largely these are players in the infrastructure industries, most often state-owned enterprises – road, rail and infrastructure engineering and construction companies, power generation equipment providers, telecom infrastructure providers, and the like. Some are world-scale and world-class companies with significant influence with their ministries in China. I don’t see them giving up on customer finance as a sales lever without a fight.
I suspect some interesting arguments will rage between the fiscal tighteners in the government and those arguing for export growth for job creation in the months ahead.